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Council at war over ex-mayor's attacks

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: November 20, 2012

  • John Vanderwolfe

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FORMER mayor Neal Davey has resigned from chairing the influential committee handling Tiverton council's finance, saying he no longer has confidence or trust in the authority's officers.

Cllr Davey, who was mayor of the town until May, read out a statement at the start of last Monday's meeting of the finance and general purposes committee.

He said it would have "become obvious" to many of his fellow councillors that he was unhappy of late with the conduct of officers of the town council, although some of his concerns dated back about two and a half years.

Cllr Davey said the situation had deteriorated in recent months, and particularly over the last few weeks.

He said: "I no longer have trust or confidence in either the town clerk or assistant town clerk.

"Such a position makes it impossible for me to properly carry out my duties as chairman of this committee."

He said he believed both the clerk and assistant town clerk had "behaved unprofessionally" and were "bringing the council into disrepute".

He went on: "Having discussed the matter with people whom I trust and whose opinions I value, I have come to the conclusion that the only honourable course of action is for me to resign as chairman of the finance and general purposes committee."

Town clerk John Vanderwolfe said he was "disgusted" by Cllr Davey's comments and would be seeking legal advice.

Assistant town clerk Jill Larcombe said she too would be taking legal advice. She said Cllr Davey was subject of an allegation of bullying which she had made, but would not be commenting on further while it was "investigated in a proper manner".

Underlying tensions over the organisation of this year's Christmas lantern procession, which is due to take place on Saturday and its place alongside the Christmas lights switch-on ceremony, also came to the fore.

Cllr Paul Graham, who was mayor two years before Cllr Davey said he was disappointed the council's "dirty washing" was being aired in such a way. He said: "We hope to have a successful lantern procession this year, but it has not been helped by certain councillors with personal axes to grind and egos to massage."

Cllr Davey said the organisation of the lantern procession this year had been "a bit of a farce".

Earlier in the meeting Cllr Graham had asked Cllr Davey, who also serves on Mid Devon District Council's cabinet, whether having "done the honourable thing" and resigned as committee chairman, he might review his position on the council.

He said: "If Cllr Davey can't support either of the two officers or the work of the council itself, should he not consider resigning from the council?"

The meeting followed angry scenes at a previous extraordinary meeting of the council last week where senior councillor Wally Burke had wanted to remove Cllr Davey as chairman of the finance committee, with last Monday's meeting providing the first opportunity to do so.

The new chairman of the committee will be elected at the next meeting on December 10. In the absence of the deputy chairman Cllr Dennis Knowles, members voted for mayor Cllr Tom Lindus to oversee last week's meeting.

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